"The implication is clear: No church should expect its pastor(s) to excel in the prophetic, kingly, and priestly aspects of godly leadership."
Yesterday Dee Tweeted out the title of a post published on The Gospel Coalition website — Why Do Churches Wound Their Pastors?
My initial thought was: who, by and large, will be reading this article – pastors/seminarians or lay people? As I write this post, only one person has commented.
UPDATE (5/25/17, 10:15 p.m.) There are now FIVE comments under TGC's post referenced above, and they are all affirming of Doriani's points.
UPDATE (5/28/17, 9:30 a.m.) There are now TEN comments under the post. Has anyone noticed the advertisements that are appearing in the comments section of TGC posts?
TGC's post Why Do Churches Wound Their Pastors? was authored by Dan Doriani, who serves as a Council Member for The Gospel Coalition. According to his bio:
Dan Doriani serves as vice president of strategic academic projects and professor of theology and ethics at Covenant Theological Seminary. He previously served as senior pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Clayton, Missouri.
Dan Doriani became a Council Member in July 2014. Several months earlier (May 21, 2014), The Gospel Coalition announced that Council Members C.J. Mahaney and Joshua Harris had resigned from the Council.
Doriani has written on a variety of topics, and I am wondering what may have prompted him to write this one. According to his article, Doriani believes there are five causes of pastoral criticism. Here are the first four (see screen shot below)
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Then he names the fifth one and explains that he will focus much of his attention on this one.
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Before I hone in on these five points, I must say that I am perplexed by this seminary professor's reference to Niccolò Machiavelli. When someone quotes Machiavelli, it is usually not done in a favorable light. Here is a short video that provides a brief overview of this Italian political philosopher.
Not only that, here are several quotes from what is perhaps Machiavelli's best known work The Prince.
“It is much safer to be feared than loved because …love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”
“Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.”
“Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.”
Again, I am not sure why there was any reference to Niccolò Machiavelli in Doriani's post because most of the commentaries I have read about Machiavelli are not complimentary.
Now let's take a look at the five causes of criticism that lead to the wounding of a pastor, according to Don Doriani.
The first one was quite cynical – that congregants will deliberately lie, deceive, and manipulate in order to gain control by destroying a pastor. The second and third points are hardly worth discussing.
The fourth point – resistance to change by congregants, although a pastor believes there is a need for reform – has some merit, but I believe the reference to Machiavelli did not help Doriani's point.
Finally, who could argue with the fifth (and most important) point – that all pastors are sinners and that they may lack certain skills and abilities to lead well? We absolutely agree with Doriani because we have written numerous posts reminding our readers that although pastors attempt to shepherd their flocks, they too are human and capable of sinning just as much as their congregants.
Doriani then writes:
Consider that God ordained three ongoing offices for Israel: prophet, priest, and king. None but Jesus held all three offices. Few had even two: Melchizedek was priest and king, Moses was a prophet and kingly leader, and David was king and prophet, at least informally, through his psalms. Even if we add a few more dual-role leaders, almost no one had two offices and no one but Jesus had all three.
The implication is clear: No church should expect its pastor(s) to excel in the prophetic, kingly, and priestly aspects of godly leadership. No one is equally gifted and passionate about the prophetic (teaching and preaching), the kingly (leading and organizing), and the priestly (shepherding and prayer). Even if a pastor were capable in every area, he’ll find one exhilarating, the other exhausting.
He concludes that there is a Better Way…
Doriani wonders why congregations criticize their pastors for not being perfect because after all, Jesus was the only perfect one…
He goes on to ask why churches idolize their pastors one day and criticize/condemn them the next. He then makes this interesting statement:
"Americans can’t bear disappointment in silence, and all too often, we behave more like Americans than disciples."
This immediately brings to mind those infamous words of Mark Driscoll: "Shut up and do what you're told."
We have seen in recent church history that silence is definitely NOT golden! Is that what Doriani is advocating???
Not surprisingly, Doriani ends the post quoting those verses from Hebrews that Calvinista pastors (such as C.J. Mahaney) are so fond of quoting:
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. . . . Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls. . . . Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Heb. 13:7, 17).
It appears that these are the takeaways from the post:
– Your pastor isn't perfect, so suck it up.
– Silence is golden (when it comes to criticizing your pastor).
– Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls…